Mindful Management of Type 2 Diabetes

Matthew Solan is the Executive Editor of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, and Howard E. LeWine, MD is the Chief Medical Editor for Harvard Health Publishing. They recently collaborated on a piece for Harvard Health Publishing examining how mindfulness practices and similar interventions such as yoga may help people with diabetes control blood sugar. The pair cite a recent analysis of multiple studies, published in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine, that suggests how and why these might help.

The findings suggest that “those who participated in any of the mind-body activities for any length of time lowered their levels of hemoglobin A1C, a key marker for diabetes. On average, A1C levels dropped by 0.84%. This is similar to the effect of taking metformin (Glucophage), a first-line medication for treating type 2 diabetes, according to the researchers. A1C levels are determined by a blood test that shows a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. Levels below 5.7% are deemed normal, levels from 5.7% to less than 6.5% are considered prediabetes, and levels 6.5% and higher are in the diabetes range.”

They suggest that one’s ” “ability to reduce stress may play a big part. “Yoga and other mindfulness practices elicit a relaxation response — the opposite of the stress response,” says Dr. Shalu Ramchandani, a health coach and internist at the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “A relaxation response can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This improves insulin resistance and keeps blood sugar levels in check, thus lowering A1C levels.” A relaxation response can help people with diabetes in other ways, such as by improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure, which protects against heart attacks and strokes.

You can read the full article at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/a-mindful-way-to-help-manage-type-2-diabetes-202302062885